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College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on April 7, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: WATCH: South Carolina walk-on nails kick during spring game, then gets awarded scholarship
THE SYNOPSIS: These types of videos will never, ever get old.  The recipient in this video, Parker White, went on to be the Gamecocks’ primary placekicker in 2019.  He made all 25 point-afters and 18-of-22 on field goals.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Steve Spurrier is returning to coach football… but will remain a Florida athletics ambassador all the same
THE SYNOPSIS: The Alliance of American Football was officially announced on this day, with Spurrier piloting the Orlando franchise.  The Ol’ Ball Coach’s return to the sidelines lasted eight games as the new pro league shuttered eight weeks into a 10-game season last April.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Nick Saban, on making QB decision: ‘You have a time frame. I don’t’
THE SYNOPSIS: The Nicktator gives zero you-know-whats about you peasants and your timelines.  Tua Tagovailoa, the freshman sensation who was the hero of the 2017 national championship game, was the favorite.  Jalen Hurts, the two-year starter, was the subject of myriad transfer rumors.  Tagovailoa ultimately won the starting job. Hurts ultimately transferred to Oklahoma.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield enters not guilty plea in Arkansas arrest
THE SYNOPSIS: Run, Baker, run!

2017

THE HEADLINE: Shaq Wiggins barred by Louisville from transferring to five schools
THE SYNOPSIS: The Bobby Petrino-led Cardinals petulantly barred the cornerback from transferring to Kentucky, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Purdue and Western Kentucky. On appeal, MSU was removed from the banned list. Wiggins ultimately transferred to Tennessee.

2016

THE HEADLINE: Waco police investigating “prominent Baylor football player” for alleged sexual assault
THE SYNOPSIS: This was one in a series of events that marked the beginning of the end for Art Briles with the Bears.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Report: Big 12 may get title game in ’16; ACC to three divisions?
THE SYNOPSIS: Half of the report was accurate.  Kind of.  After a seven-year absence, the Big 12 did reinstate its football championship game.  In 2017.  Obviously, three divisions in the ACC never happened.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Ohio State will pay $2 million to non-conference opponents
THE SYNOPSIS: Six years later, UConn confirmed that Ohio State will pay them $1.95 million.  For just one game.

2012

THE HEADLINE: More details from Petrino’s Sunday motorcycle accident
THE SYNOPSIS: The soap opera that was Bobby Petrino had entered its fifth day.  Three days later, the daytime drama was canceled.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Writer: ‘Bama supporter paid for five-star recruit
THE SYNOPSIS: Alabama went on to find no violations in their investigation of the recruitment of Brent Calloway.

2009

THE HEADLINE: BAD NEWS FOR THE SEC: A.J. GREEN IS 100% HEALTHY*
THE SYNOPSIS: Dealing with a groin injury throughout his true freshman season, Green caught 56 passes for 963 yards and eight touchdowns in 2008. In 2009, his statline read 53-808-6. In 2010, it was 57-848-9. The wide receiver was the fourth-overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.

(*Yes, back in the day, we used to scream out our headlines at our readers in all-caps. The move to NBC a couple of months later mercifully ended that practice.)

Anonymous FBS athletic director: ‘If there’s no season, we will be f*****’

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If you didn’t realize how important college football is to an athletic department’s bottom line, this should highlight it.

In the midst of the spreading coronavirus pandemic, some connected to the game of college football are decidedly pessimistic that the upcoming season will be played. Others are expressing cautious optimism. For now, at least.

Brett McMurphy of The Stadium conducted a survey of 130 athletic directors with FBS programs, with 112 of them participating. According to McMurphy, the ADs “were asked to rank their optimism on the upcoming season being played from ‘1’ (will not be played) to ’10’ (definitely will be played).”

Not a single AD gave less than a “5” in response, meaning everyone who responded, at least at this time, feels there’s at least a 50-50 chance the season will go off as planned. A slight majority of respondents (51%) assigned either the numbers seven or eight in McMurphy’s survey. One-quarter of them were decidedly optimistic with either a nine or 10 as a response. Most of that optimism was on the part of Group of Five programs that, already financially reeling from the distilled NCAA’s revenue distribution last month, desperately need a college football season to be played.

If the college football season is to start on time — the first games are scheduled for Aug. 29 — what would be the absolute latest teams could start reconvening and prepping for the 2020 campaign? The answer you get depends on the individual you ask. Some would say early June at the absolute latest. Others have said the middle of July.

So, what if the season is canceled? Completely?

“If there’s no season, we will be f*****,” an anonymous AD told McMurphy.

A tweet from Ross Dellenger of SI.com very plainly illustrates how reliant athletic departments are on revenue from college football.

Suffice to say, if the 2020 college football season is completely wiped out, non-revenue sports will be cut. Lots of them will be shuttered, more than likely.

The good news, such as it is, is that the powers-that-be in the sport will go to great lengths to save the 2020 college football season. In fact, one report earlier today suggested that the season could start as late as January of next year. How that would work with players who are eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft would have to be worked out, as would myriad other issues.

While it’s way too early to form a concrete opinion, there’s little doubt that all connected to the sport will exhaust every option to save the 2020 college football season. And, if the season is canceled? It’ll mean we all have a helluva lot more to worry about than sports.

Kirk Herbstreit would be ‘shocked’ if college football is played this fall

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No college football this fall?  The drumbeat for such a possibility grows louder by the day.

In the midst of the growing coronavirus pandemic, Mack Brown earlier this week expressed concern about whether or not the college football season would be played as scheduled.  Whether it would be a partial season.  Or no season at all.

“There is a fear of ‘would we have a season?’ ‘Would we have a partial season?’ ‘What does a partial season mean,’” North Carolina head coach said. “There is a great concern because of the remedy that comes in with football.

“The biggest problem is you’re not sure when it ends, and we can’t get those answers at this point.”

Compared to one prominent college football personality, Brown is downright optimistic.

During a radio interview Thursday night, Kirk Herbstreit was asked about the prospects of teams taking the fall this season.  According to the ESPN television personality, he would be “shocked” if it happened.

“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens,” Herbstreit stated, by way of TMZ.com.

“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a [coronavirus] vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”

Because of the cancellation of March Madness, schools saw their revenue distribution from the NCAA drastically diminished.  That is expected to take a heavy toll on non-FBS schools.  If the college football season were to be canceled?  That would severely impact FBS schools, especially those in the Group of Five.

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall broaches possibility of season getting pushed back due to coronavirus

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The coronavirus pandemic is front and center across the world and that includes the realm of athletics as well.

While much of the recent discourse has been about the potential for holding spring football practice at some point in the near future, others are looking further ahead on the calendar. Though there has been an assumption that the COVID-19 outbreak can be contained enough to the point where the fall season can go on as scheduled, that may not wind up being the case. Such concerns are normally spoken in hushed tones but Virginia head coach Broncon Mendenhall broached the subject earlier this week and told reporters he is preparing for a very long break ahead with his team.

“We’re preparing exactly with that model in place,” Mendenhall told CBS Sports. “We’re acting as if, and we’re making preparations as if, we won’t have spring practice. We possibly won’t have players here for summer school, any session, and possibly we won’t have the opportunity for anything other than fall camp to begin.

“Knowing that fall camp timing might even be pushed back, meaning that there certainly could be a chance that it’s not even be a full schedule played this year — if football is played, period.”

The ACC has already canceled spring sports competition and halted practices the rest of the academic year. There has been some talk among coaches and administrators that there could be an extended fall camp as a way to acclimate players and get them ramped up to speed in order to prevent injuries but nothing has been settled on.

Such thinking, however, is likely optimistic with every passing day that COVID-19 numbers grow and the health care system gets strained further.

Mendenhall, it seems, is smartly preparing for things going the other way on the calendar compared to most. While he’s not the first to think it, going public with concerns that the football season remains in peril this fall is notable coming from the recent ACC Coastal champion.

Who knows when things might return back to any semblance of normalcy but it sounds like at least one football coach is thinking that won’t be anytime soon.

Two more players leave the Virginia football program

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It was moving day on the personnel front for the Virginia football program.  Again.

In early February, it was reported that Lamont Atkins and PK Kier were no longer members of the Virginia football team. During a video conference call with the media Thursday, Bronco Mendenhall confirmed that the running backs have decided to leave the sport entirely. Atkins is scheduled to graduate from the university in May, while Kier is leaving to focus on academics.

Subsequent to that, Mendenhall also revealed that a pair of his Virginia football players, quarterback RJ Harvey and offensive lineman Ja’Quay Hubbard, have left the team as well. According to the coach, both players are moving on to unnamed junior colleges.

Harvey and Hubbard were both three-star members of the Cavaliers’ Class of 2019. Hubbard played in two games as a true freshman, which allowed the lineman to take a redshirt. Harvey also took a redshirt after not seeing the field. There was a possibility that the Orlando native would’ve been faced with a position change if he had stayed with the Virginia football team.

Mendenhall has now seen at least six players leave his Virginia football team since the calendar turned from January to February. In addition to the four already mentioned, it was reported that running back Seneca Milledge (HERE) and defensive back Major Williams (HERE) had entered the NCAA transfer database earlier this month.

During the video chat with the media, Mendenhall confirmed those two are in the portal.

In Mendenhall’s fourth season as the Virginia football head coach, the Cavaliers posted a 9-5 record.  It was the school’s most wins in a season since hitting the same number in 2007.  UVa. also played in its first-ever ACC championship and Orange Bowl.  Both of those games ended in losses, but still.